Under half of violence crimes are solved, figures show

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The Independent Online

Victims have been dealt a "real insult" by official statistics showing less than half of recorded violent crimes in England and Wales were solved by the police last year, the Tories claim.

Data supplied by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to her Opposition shadow, Dominic Grieve, indicated the detection rate for offences of violence against the person fell to 49 per cent in 2007/08. The Home Office said the figure was being pushed down because forces were no longer able to count as many cases where no further action was taken as "solved" crimes.

But Mr Grieve told The Daily Telegraph: "It is bad enough that so much violent crime is being committed. It is a real insult to victims that over half of perpetrators are getting away with it.

"This is a direct result of Labour's target culture, which has incentivised the police to pursue minor crimes over serious violent ones, and the reams of red tape that tie officers to their desks when the public wants them on the street."

He spoke after the publication at the weekend of a leaked document in which the Home Office's top civil servant admitted that serious violent crime had been allowed to rise because of a focus on targets.

In a 101-page briefing paper for new Home Office ministers last month, permanent secretary Sir David Normington suggested that because police had been given incentives to tackle less serious offences in a bid to reduce crime figures, they were less able to combat violent incidents.

The Government's strategy would now focus on violent crime, he said.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Overall crime is down by 6 per cent and fewer people are being injured as a result of violence.

"As demonstrated by the Policing Green Paper, we are always looking for new ways to further reduce bureaucracy – freeing up officers for frontline duties and building an even more efficient service."